Friday, Jan 15–Berlin Looks To Online Site To Auction Surplus Goods

BERLIN – Berlin’s surplus government property will now be disposed of through an online auction website that specializes in government surplus equipment auctions, the Berlin Mayor and Council decided at the Monday night council meeting.

At the suggestion of two staff members, Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward and Police Chief Arnold Downing, the Berlin Mayor and Council considered the new approach Monday night and voted unanimously to use auction website to sell surplus town equipment, from computers and cars to office furniture.

Town departments still have first claim on items in the surplus equipment list, Downing said, so the town will not lose still useful items if they can be used in another town department than the one discarding the equipment.

Downing said he has used general auction site eBay to dispose of surplus items in the past, and one aspect of that process gave the department trouble that the new site would eliminate. When using eBay, Downing said, shipping items to auction winners and making sure the buyers got those items was at times a burden.

Shipping will not be an issue with the new auction site, however, because the GovDeals process absolves the town of any responsibility to ship sold materials.

“All items, it’s up to the winner of the auction to come out and pick them up,” said town Administrative Director Tony Carson.

“We believe the process will be easier,” said Downing.

The town will pay a fee of 7.5 percent of each winning bid to the GovDeals website. Items may be listed as they are designated surplus.

“It’s a clean, neat, efficient website,” said Ward, who has done a lot of bidding on GovDeals, for other governments he has worked for.

Worcester County has used GovDeals for the last few years in lieu of an annual surplus auction held in the real world and has reported success with the auction site.

“You’re going to use it mainly for your bigger items,” said Carson.

The Berlin Police Department has three used cars and four used laptops on its surplus list, Downing pointed out as an example.

“It’s a good tool to sell things you don’t need,” said Councilwoman Lisa Hall.